Matthew 1:18-25 (New International Reader's Version)
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was a godly man. He did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly.
20 But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All of this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, 23 "The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel."—(Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means "God with us."
24 Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not make love to her until after she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.
He was a good man, hard-working, well-respected in the community, dedicated to the congregation and his synagogue. He had tried to follow the law all of his life and he was a righteous Jew. Fact was though, he had never quit found the right one, a woman who he could have his children with. Yes, he was a little older, but it was customary for a man to be established before he married. He had a friend of his father's who had a young daughter; she was very beautiful and pleasant to his eye, so had made an agreement with her father, and so he was pledged to marry her when their engagement was up in a year.
What should he have done? She was only gone a few months, and now she is pregnant. People already were talking, and the rumors were that it was probably a Roman soldier; but her father and many others suspected him. Nonetheless, he could easily deny it, prove it wasn't him and divorce her, but that would mean certain death for her, and despite all this he really loved her. She said that God had appointed her to be the mother of the Messiah, and if it weren't for that dream he had where an angel told him what God's plans were, he probably would have just walked away.
Now he would keep his pledge and do right by Mary. Although it would hurt his position and reputation in the community, he would be the baby's father and bring him up as his own. It all seemed very strange and confusing, but if God had a hand in all of these events, he surely needed to be obedient and in faith, humbly follow what God had promised.
Has God asked you to stand up for someone or something where your reputation would be on the line? Has he called you out to faithfully be His example among those who oppose or ridicule you? Are you willing to say that you are a Christian, support Christian principles and not compromise your values? God's calling takes guts; it is not for wimps. It requires sacrifice and may possible bring harm to you. Do you have the courage to do the right thing and take a stand for Jesus no matter what the consequences?
Painting The Dream of St Joseph, by Georges de La Tour, 1640
There were several steps of faith on the way to the manger, to the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Each of the characters had to take a step of faith and trust to help fulfill God's plan. God's conversation with mankind, his reconnection and plan of redemption would start with these faithful servants.